Yesterday I got home late, tired but happy, having been to stay with a very good friend of mine; a fellow foodie who is always ready to share a good recipe and a nice bottle of wine. The last time I saw her we picked wild blackberries on the windswept north Devon coast and I told her all about my sloe gin-making adventures.
This weekend we were lucky enough to come across a bountiful crop of plump sloe berries while on a ‘country’ walk (and by ‘country’ I really mean a quick wander followed by a pit stop at the pub). Ever-ready, I whipped a ziploc bag out of my handbag – much to the amusement of my fellow walkers – and we got picking. I left the sloes in my friend’s capable hands with the recipe below.
They say that sloes are best picked after the first frost, which, at least round my way, was this morning. The birds haven’t left many berries on the bushes near me but fortunately I picked some back in September. The first frost was easily simulated by popping the sloes in the freezer overnight. My gin has been steeping for about two months now and, as you can see in the photo above, has already taken on a deep red colour.
Makes about 750ml
You will need a clean 1 litre bottle or jar, preferably with a wide neck.
- 400g sloes, discard any that seem past their best and remove the stalks
- 100g sugar
- 750ml gin, nothing too expensive!
- 2 or 3 drops of almond extract
Prick each berry with a fork or clean needle and pop them in the bottle. This can be a bit laborious and sticky but is necessary to get a bright red colour. If the berries are crushed the gin will go brown.
Pour the sugar over the sloes and add the gin and almond extract.
Seal the bottle and shake every day until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store in a cool, dark place.
Leave the berries to steep in the gin for at least three months and up to a year (if you can bear to wait that long!). Before drinking, strain the gin and decant it into a 750ml bottle or several smaller bottles for an attractive Christmas gift.